It’s been a wee while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. I’ve blinked and summer disappeared. Late summer also seems to have come and gone in a flash, even though technically we’re still in this season. The nights are drawing in and things are slowing down and it strikes me that I’ve not been inspired to share my views about much lately. What I am finding is on my mind quite a bit just now is the concept of enough – and I haven’t been sure if this concept is ‘enough’ to write about.
To give my thoughts a bit of context, you should know I’ve just finished reading Michael A. Singer’s book, “The Surrender Experiment.” This came recommended to me after reading his first book, “The Untethered Soul.” While I really enjoyed the latter, I found myself judging this author 6 ways from Sunday as I read the former. The Surrender Experiment is about Michael A. Singer’s life and how at some point in his college years, he discovered meditation and witness consciousness. Around that time, he started an experiment in letting go of the need to be in charge of the direction his life will take and letting the universe take charge. Though it’s not necessarily how he would say it, given the religious connotations of the phrase and he is in no way religious, the phrase that comes to my mind in relation to his experiment is “Let Go and Let God”. That’s not what bugs me about this book. It’s not even the content that’s bugged me. What stuck in my craw was the idea that, the way this book is written, it seems quite easy for this man to know precisely what the universe is telling him to do. As a through-and-through questioner (thanks Gretchen Rubin!), this leaves me with too many questions for my liking. Without going into too much detail, the bottom line for me is that – sure, it’s easy in hindsight to see how we got from A to B and what role the universe played in that. I’m just not so sure how easy it is to notice this on our travels when decisions have to be made. And the way the book is written, it reads as though this man goes along and knows what to do each time, and each time it works out in his best interest. Michael A. Singer just sets about letting the universe bring him opportunities and he follows them even though his first instinct is that he doesn’t want to go in a particular direction. And he makes it sound so easy!
What does this have to do with the concept of enough? Well, initially, it made me start to question myself and how committed and open I was to new opportunities. I am a creature of habit and I love my routines, so starting new things, especially without giving it lots of thought first is alien to me. So maybe I haven’t been open enough or committed enough to my own self-development and maybe I’m missing new opportunities. Yet when I look a bit deeper – and also look around me – I notice an interesting commonality in the stories I tell myself and the stories I hear. Expectations are high, and most times, hardly ever met. People are striving to make sure everyone else is ok, many times at great costs to themselves. Things need to get done and there is no possibility of feeling settled or relaxed if things remain unfinished – at home, at work, in life. There are fears of moving out of comfort zones, of not being able to achieve, of not having company and of not having enough. And at the root of all these stories, seems to be an unspoken feeling of just not being enough.
When is it, exactly, that we start to think that we aren’t enough, just as we are? Is it when we are encouraged to do well in school and are praised if we achieve high grades? Is it when we play sports and compete for first prize? When does that expectation that we try our best turn into an expectation that we must come first or we can’t make a mistake? I certainly don’t remember ever getting those explicit messages. And yet somehow, like many of the people I speak to, I’m guilty of setting myself high expectations – higher than those I set for the people around me – and I’m guilty of telling myself that I am not allowed to make mistakes, causing myself needless worry and stress. In reading this book, I’m even finding myself wondering if I am open and committed enough. I realise that a big part of my own journey towards self-compassion is challenging this idea that in some ways I may not be enough, and I’m pleased to notice that I am making progress. But I do find myself from time-to-time slipping up and reverting back to old habits. And it’s those times, when I dig a bit deeper, I find it soothing to remember that I am enough just as I am – even if my best doesn’t reach those soaring standards I’ve set for myself.
That ability to dig a bit deeper and offer myself some kindness and nurturing has taken quite a bit of practice. It’s not like I just decided one day, “I think I’ll tell myself that I’m enough as I am and/or I’ve accomplished enough for today even though there are un-ticked items on my list of things to do.” There has been lots of inner work, inner conflict and trial and error to get me to be able to hear – and believe – that nurturing voice that tells me I am enough. Some of this work has been accomplished through reading, things like blog posts (e.g., handsfreemama) or books (e.g., Brene Brown's work) spring to mind, some of the work has been tied into my yoga practice (with simple intentions, mantras or sankalpas stating “I am enough”) and some of it has been trying out new behaviours, like intentionally leaving things unfinished, giving myself a break and coming back to unfinished tasks another day, when they are still there waiting. And so far, it appears that the world keeps spinning, I’ve not gotten into trouble or let anyone down and I am still moving forward.
So I think it’s time for me to say “Enough!” to this not-enough-ness. Today, I give myself permission to be enough as I am, even if I’m questioning whether or not I’m letting the universe guide me enough, whether or not I’m finding it easy enough to be guided by (or even hear!) what the universe is saying or whether or not I’m meeting anyone’s expectations – even those unachievable ones I set myself. And, if you’ve read this far, for your efforts, I’ll give you this same permission: You are enough, just as you are, no matter what you have or haven’t accomplished today, no matter how great or otherwise you might be feeling today, no matter what anyone else might say. I am enough; you are enough; we are enough.